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Isild Le Besco,
Slightly insightful, but not wholly convincing or worthwhile
17 Girls (2011)
Lots of mid-teen girl stuff on French beaches. And yet supposedly a social issue movie about a rash of intentional pregnancies at a high school. There are scenes between the girls that pry into contemporary youth culture but only get the lid off. This is a sensational idea with the depth of a single gasp.
Even stranger, once you get into it, is how the movie makers, the writer/director pair Delphine and Muriel Coulin (both did both), took an American high school news story and adapted it to this small industrial coastal city in France. It doesn't right true. The utter rebellion of the kids to reason, their various trajectories around peer pressure and media hype, and the general glibness of some of the school reactions all seem a bit callous, and without nuance.
There is an attempt at depth (and some of the best acting) though the main character, Camille, played by Louise Grinberg. Here the need for such rebellion seems to have roots in her psyche and her family situation. How this effect "spreads" and becomes an easy viral sense of irresponsibility is not given much thought, however. There are three or four other girls who are given some complexity, but not enough to quite explain their motiviations.
Maybe the project was doomed when the writers faced the central problemthis is both about a large effect (over a dozen girls, en masse) and an individual problem (one by one). How to do both? Especially when it happens pretty much simultaneously.
There is a low budget documentary on the real deal"The Gloucester 18" which is apparently (from their press kit) a kind of public service piece against teen pregnancy and there is a TV series in Spanish called "El Pacto" that supposedly expands on the sensational aspects of the story. I'm not sure any of it is worth the trouble more than just reading a new article about the phenomenon. The movie here is curious at first, slow to get going, and has a few interesting moments, but it hardly holds up over an hour and a half.
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